Screen Performance and the Shakespeare Film Canon in the Spotlight of Archivision

Screen Performance and the Shakespeare Film Canon in the Spotlight of Archivision

By Anthony R. Guneratne

Anthem Studies in Theatre and Performance

Revolutions in post-digital archival practice and other forms of historical research necessitate an increasingly sophisticated interdisciplinary approach to Shakespeare studies, with Shakespeare-based films serving as an ideal model for the ongoing transformations of many disciplinary fields.

Hardback, 250 Pages


March 2023

£80.00, $125.00

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About This Book

A revolution has taken place in Shakespeare studies with overwhelming consequences to debates about canonicity and canon formation, one that has yet to come to film studies as systematically and consequentially. On its own account, the historical study of documentation has advanced greatly in the latter field (vide the activities of the DOMITOR group of film historians and the collective enterprise of such established journals as Film History and Film and History and such newer ones as The Journal of Visual Culture and The Journal of Contemporary Archival Studies). But until recently film historians and those who restore, preserve, and exhibit films occupied separate realms, the former grounded in the humanities and the latter in the natural sciences. Adaptations of Shakespeare help us bridge that gap, and this is the book that brings the most salient contributions in these disparate fields into a unified whole. In the process the book also contributes to the furtherance of those interdisciplinary intersections by using Shakespeare’s oeuvre and adaptations of it as an illustrative model. Its guiding principles are the twin concepts of microcinehistory and archivision, which together suggest radically new approaches to the search for once extant but now lost films, for films that never attained completion, and even those few celebrated rediscoveries that have fleshed out the bonier parts of the medium’s narrative history. Indeed, it is the work’s overriding contention that the synthesis of approaches it effects allows us to reconstruct one of the most extraordinary transmedial and intermedial performance histories in any art form. By offering a new way of seeing and hearing this immense and growing canon of audio-visual interpretations that span the entire history of filmmaking in a variety of national and international contexts, this book strives to deploy the model of Shakespearean canon-formation to invigorate and even transform approaches found in a number of disciplinary terrains: film history, media archaeology, audio-visual narratology and text- analysis, and, above all, performance practices in their increasingly multi-medial fluidity.


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Author Information

Anthony Guneratne has taught at four international institutions and presently teaches film studies and the history and theory of interactive media at Florida Atlantic University. Anthony Guneratne’s books, articles, conference presentations, and event programming foreground Shakespeare’s increasing role in media innovation and archival research and practice.


Anthem Studies in Theatre and Performance

Table of Contents

Introduction: Microcinehistory as an alternative to Shakespeare as Historical Relic, Scientific Curiosity and Ideological Battleground; Chapter 1: Going, Going, Gone: On film as a Self-Consuming Medium and the Historical Consequences to Shakespeare Studies; Chapter 2: The Better Angels of Rediscovery: Digitization, Restoration, and Evolving Archival Practices; Chapter 3: The Forces of Fragmentation: Commercial Imperatives and National Policies; Chapter 4: The Greatest Shakespeare Film Never Made: A Bare-Bones Approach to Paratexts and Preservation; Chapter 5: Cold Wars and Genre Wars: Understanding Mediation, Remediation, and Intermediation; Chapter 6: Out of the Shadows: Messages from Many Margins; Hopeful Conclusion: Reanimating a Discourse; Defining a Paradigm; Establishing a True Canon; Notes; Works Cited; Index. 


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